April 28 (UPI) — Michael Collins, a former NASA astronaut who was part of the first moon landing mission of Apollo 11 in 1969, died on Wednesday. He was 90.
Collins was part of Apollo 11’s three-man crew, but unlike Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, he never walked on the moon. He was sometimes known as the “forgotten astronaut.”
“Today the nation lost a true pioneer and lifelong advocate for exploration in astronaut Michael Collins,” Acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk said in a statement Wednesday.
“As pilot of the Apollo 11 command module — some called him ‘the loneliest man in history’ — while his colleagues walked on the moon for the first time, he helped our nation achieve a defining milestone.”
Collins’ death leaves Aldrin as the last remaining survivor from the historic Apollo 11 mission. Armstrong died in 2012.
During the run up to the moon landing’s 50th anniversary in 2019, Collins told UPI about his views of NASA’s current direction — and said the U.S. space program should basically skip a return to the moon and focus on sending astronauts to Mars.
“I see more moon missions as delaying Mars, which is a much more interesting place to go,” he said.